The pressure to come as close to perfection as possible didn’t overwhelm the Huntington High School Blue Devil marching band at last Sunday’s New York State Field Band Conference Championships at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Huntington showed why it has long been considered one of the premier bands in the state by turning in a dazzling performance to capture third place.
Band director Jessica Castaneda, assistant director Brian Stellato and Huntington’s professional staff members were all ecstatic with the Blue Devils’ showing, which solidified its reputation as one of New York’s best.
“Mr. Stellato and I, as well as the rest of our amazing staff, are incredibly proud of the band,” Ms. Castaneda said. “They gave it their all and were absolutely beaming when they left the field. Tears of joy and pride in what they just executed were prominent. These students have shown all year that they have what it takes to push through tough rehearsals and come out stronger in performances and the Carrier Dome performance was no exception. Placing top three in the Large School 2 division brings the Blue Devil marching band to a new level of achievement. Our band has such a strong bond and the fact that they shared this day and these moments together is what matters most.”
The band spent hundreds of hours refining its techniques and rehearsing this year’s field show. Beginning last summer during a week-long camp, the Blue Devils put together one of their best seasons ever, impressing crowds at a string of competitions in September and October, marching in the Homecoming Day parade and performing during the fall pep rally and at halftime of several football games.
Jessica Castaneda and Brian Stellato lead
the Blue Devil band. (Darin Reed photo.)
“I am so incredibly proud of my band,” said senior Rachel Roday, who along with Anjali Kapur served as the Blue Devils’ drum major. “All 109 members put in hundreds of hours of hard work and it paid off at the championships. Most of the band walked off the field in tears, just as proud of their performance as I was of them. It’s incredible to play in the dome with the huge crowd and even bigger echo. Overcoming the anxiety and echo of the dome, as well as all the other challenges throughout the season just proves how dedicated and determined this band is. I was smiling the entire performance and I would not change a single thing about my last run through as part of the HBDMB.”
The magical season that culminated in the Syracuse Carrier Dome will always be remembered fondly by the band’s musicians and color guard members. The Huntington Blue Devil marching band fraternity bonds together all the members who have performed in the band since it was organized in 1934.
The third place state finish left band members exhilarated. “It was an amazing experience,” senior Jordan Biener said. “It was incredible to place as well as we did. This season has been great. I couldn’t have asked for a better band to share my senior season with. I want to thank all the staff members for all their help throughout the season. I’m so proud to be a member of the marching band and so grateful that I was able to be a part of such an amazing activity.”
With Ms. Roday and Ms. Kapur as the band’s drum majors, Connor Grosso as the Blue Devils’ field major and all the other respective section leaders and professional staff members pulling together, the Huntington band was unstoppable this fall.
“I am extremely proud of the band’s performance at the state championships,” Ms. Kapur said. “We had our best show of the season and won a historic placement in the conference. Throughout this season the band has worked incredibly hard, put their hearts into every performance and seized every opportunity to improve. The results of championships just prove to me that the HBDMB is capable of achieving whatever goal we imagine and surpassing whatever standard we set. Congratulations to the band on a phenomenal end to an amazing season and thank you for giving me four wonderful years to always remember!”